ATLANTA’S RAP HIPPIES ON SAVING THE WORLD
Today it’s rare to come across that skin-crawling, nerve-stimulating rap music that moves you; hip hop that touches you on a deeper level than a head nod. But fear not, EarthGang are here. Meet your new spirit animals; Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot, the Atlanta artists who met in high school and started transforming their thoughts into rhymes over unique production.
The duo are part of a larger collective, Spillage Village, that’s as free flowing in positive energy and creativity as its members. EarthGang recently put out a seven track EP, ‘Torba’, that provides enough thoughts for meditation for each day of the week. Before that, their full-length album ‘Shallow Graves For Toys‘, was their refined end result of actualised concepts, which should be taken as a collection of vignettes. We caught up with EarthGang on their way home from touring with Ab-Soul for the ‘These Days’ tour to discuss their rocky start and bright future.
How was the ‘These Days’ tour?
Johnny Venus: It was beautiful. We got to travel across the country. We got to link up with so many people from so many different cultures. A lot of people [had] never seen us live before. Doctur Dot: A lot of them confirm what they’ve been listening to for a while.
Let’s go way back before you guys were EarthGang, had you been rapping individually?
DD: Yeah, we were rapping before EarthGang. I would do a little here and there. Venus was recording a bunch of stuff, on some Lil Wayne… JV: It didn’t really start until the tenth or eleventh grade. I had friends I went to middle school with, they had a recording studio, and I knew Doc before then.
I saw on your Wikipedia page that you guys met on a field trip. Do you remember how that went?
JV: I don’t even remember where the field trip was. When we came back, our high school was on fire. That was the christening moment right there.
DD: It was nothing but black people [at our school] we didn’t have no white people, so whenever there was a chance for young kids to act rowdy, they’d act rowdy. It was on the news and everything when the school was
on fire. Pulling in on the school bus we look over and just see fights, kids going wild and smoke everywhere. We’re standing in all of that and we’re like, “Yo, we the homies now.”
That would be a pretty amazing music video. Your Wikipedia page features a point of clarification that you guys aren’t an environmental group. Does that confusion happen often?
JV: Yeah… not total confusion but people who have never heard of us ask, “What do you guys do? Recycle or something?” We’re actually starting an EarthGang upkeep after all of this is done. It’s going down. You’ll see it in 10 years.
You guys have known each other for a while. How would you describe each other’s personality and what he brings to the duo?
DD: Venus brings a lot of the real diplomatic energy. I remember when Venus first met my mom in high school, she was like, “Wow, he’s such a diplomat.” I was like, “Damn Ma, you’re kinda right.” If we were a thunderstorm, I would be the rain and he would be the air pushing me around. We both have a super appreciation for the musicality. But his appreciation is very soulful and calculated.
JV: As far as Doc goes, it’s a maniacal quality. He’s very intense about things and that’s always good, to drive the point home. He brings that urgency.
It’s cool to see that you guys have a yin and yang balance. I know that you guys also call yourselves Expert Gurus. Are there other nicknames for the E and G?
JV: EarthGang aka Expert Gurus aka Egg Growers aka The Flying Travolta Brothers.
DD: And the Egregious Gynaecologists.
Photo by Leandro Moura
Words by Bryan Hahn